June 14, 2020
Clock-out questions and disclaimers take on even more meaning in a post COVID-19 world – but offer a chance for some light relief as well.
In a pre COVID-19 world, clock-out questions and disclaimers weren’t given a second thought. Employees casually noted the number of pizzas they’d delivered in a shift; or confirmed they’d taken out the trash before signing off for the day.
But as the world begins to re-open, businesses are having to implement stringent safety protocols to protect both customers and employees from the spread of COVID-19. And whilst we’ve all become overly familiar with government and/or industry mandated restrictions – such as limits on customer numbers or taking contact details for traceability purposes – we’ve noticed an increasing number of customers turning to clock-out questions to ensure hygiene procedures and safety standards are being followed.
With our interest piqued, we looked at other ways our customers have implemented clock-out questions and disclaimers and came up with our top ten, ranging from the traditional to the light-hearted.
#1 – Adherence to hygiene practices
As restaurants and retail stores begin to re-open following enforced shutdowns due to COVID-19, hygiene and safety practices are at the forefront of every employer’s mind. Consider adding COVID-19 related clock-in questions for employees to answer when commencing a shift, and clock-out questions upon shift completion, such as:
- Did you wear a mask for the duration of your shift?
- Do you have any cold or flu symptoms, such as cough, sneezing, or sore throat?
- Did you practice safe distancing?
- Did you wipe down all menus, tables, and salt and pepper shakers before seating each new customer?
#2 – OH&S processes
Many companies require employees to complete disclaimers at the end of each shift relating to personal injury or safe workplace practices. This protects both the employee (concerns or injuries can be reported and actioned immediately) and employers (minimising safety risks within the workplace to both customers and employees, and therefore reducing potential litigation).
Whilst some companies have standard workplace safety disclaimers for employees to agree (or not) to, an alternative is to have employees answer safety related clock-out questions. These may include:
- Did any safety incidents occur during your shift, and if so have these been reported?
- Did you receive an injury during the duration of your shift?
#3 – Labor compliance
Whilst labor compliance is critical for all businesses, restaurants in many states (such as California) must take specific measures when scheduling to remain compliant with regional labor requirements.
An example of these labor requirements is California meal break waivers, which is where a worker may waive their entitled meal break when working for more than 5 but less than 6 hours. Here, a disclaimer could be implemented for workers to acknowledge their entitlement and their wish to waive the meal break entitlement. Similarly, a disclaimer could be implemented if workers choose to waive one of their meal breaks when working between 10 and 12 hours.
#4 – Timeclock disputes
Use disclaimers as an added legal safety net to confirm employees have reviewed their shift clock events (e.g. clock-in and clock-out times, meal breaks taken), and either agree they are correct or have notified their manager immediately. This ensures any mistakes are dealt with immediately and minimises the chance of the employee being paid incorrectly due to inaccurate time reporting.
#5 – Tip distribution
Point of sales systems keep track of credit card tips, but not cash. Adding a clock-out question allows employees to declare the total of their cash tips, or to ask the total value of tips they took home. This enables restaurants who share tips via a tip pool to evenly distribute tips. It also ensures you are aware of tips earned by employees for compliance and tax purposes.
#6 – Close-up checklist
It’s midnight. Your last customer has just left; the aprons are off and your employees are ready to walk out the door.
It may be late and they may have done it a thousand times, but the use of a close-up checklist can ensure employee due diligence when closing for the day:
- Ask employees to confirm that all externals doors have been locked, alarms have been set and lights and air conditioning units have been turned off
- Ensure any required cleaning duties have been performed, such as wiping down bars or stacking dishwashers
- Confirm all money has been removed from the cash register/s and transferred into the safe
#7 – Maintenance requirements
Door jamming? Light flickering on and off? Squeaky towel rail? With everything else employees need to do, they may not find time during the day to make note of hardware issues or submit maintenance requests. Asking a simple question at clock-out like, ‘Are there any maintenance issues you need to report?’ provides them regular opportunities to report such issues. It also gives managers and employers formal documentation, should such issues lead to accidents or incidents further down the line.
#8 – Upcoming announcements
‘This is a reminder that we have a team meeting on July 1st. Please confirm you are able to attend otherwise notify your manager.’
Online polls, Facebook messages, group chat, bulletin boards – all are valid methods for notifying employees of team meetings or events. But consider adding it as a clock-out disclaimer to make employees confirm they are aware and will attend. (Top tip: adding it as a disclaimer rather than a clock-out question so employees aren’t asked the same question after each shift).
#9 – Areas for improvement
How often do you take the time to actively seek feedback on how you can improve, either as a manager or as a business? Whilst it’s common practice to ask customers how their experience was, who better to give feedback than your workers themselves? Give your employees an opportunity to suggest improvements or call out trouble spots at the end of each shift with specific clock-out questions. Just make sure you actually read them – and implement one or two!
#10 – Just for fun
Who said closing-up and clocking-out had to be boring? Inject some fun into shift end with your clock-out questions. Ask for employee input on upcoming changes (’What should we call our new margarita?’) or playfully stir up management rivalry (‘Who’s a better manager – John or Rob?’)
Our personal favourite? ‘How many waves did you catch during your lunch break?’ (We want to work for that company ….)